Alistair's story

Alistair discovered his eyesight was fading later in life.
Alistair discovered his eyesight was fading later in life.

"I now feel that I actually don't care that I am blind. I honestly feel that I am at par with everyone else".

Alistair Reid joined the Royal Electrical Mechanical Engineers in 1965 and trained at Arberfield and Bordon. He was discharged as a Corporal in 1975 and went on to work in a variety of jobs before he returned to Scotland, when he discovered his eyesight was fading.

 

His life was turned upside down when he began suffering from vision impairment and found doing everyday tasks increasingly difficult. Eventually he was registered blind, after suffering from Bilateral Macular Dystrophy and lost both his job and his ability to drive.  

 

"I now feel that I actually don't care that I am blind." Alistair Reed, blind veteran turned picture framer and stone carver.


Alistair, known as Ally, hit rock bottom. But with the help of Blind Veterans UK, he has learnt new skills and has his life is back on track. Speaking about his experiences, he said: "Initially I was very nervous about joining the charity. The induction week started out as a bit of a trauma for me. I went into the centre in Ovingdean, Brighton, saw the high backed chairs and felt that it was just not for me. It seemed like a place for old people.

 

"All the way down to Brighton I kept thinking to myself, "Well, what can they do for me?". I did not want charity; I didn't think I needed it. Looking back I was very arrogant. It was four years after I first heard of the charity that I decided to join. In retrospect I was an idiot during those four years."

 

After his initial hesitation about joining Blind Veterans UK, Ally persevered and took part in some of the classes we had to offer. The results have been life changing for Ally. Having enrolled in a course in picture framing and stone carving, Ally is now a self-employed picture framer with a good client base and has had his stone carvings exhibited in an art gallery. As well as this, Ally has developed a keen interest in golf and is now Vice President of the International Blind Golf Association.

 

Ally said: "The single most important thing that the charity has given me is confidence and independence. It has quite simply changed my life. I had been on a downward spiral before I became a member of the charity, and this really impacted on my family too.


"I believe that the right attitude is that people can do things - this should be the focus. I now travel the world playing golf. Just this afternoon I played and beat a friend who was fully sighted.


"I now feel that I actually don't care that I am blind. I honestly feel that I am at par with everyone else".

 

Ally said: "My blindness really made me have a very low self-esteem, and this caused me to be very selfish and introspective. With this came an inability to see things from anyone else's perspective. I kept thinking to myself that it's me that this is happening to, I am the one that cannot work, and drive and do all of the everyday things that people take for granted, so why is it that my family is finding this difficult to deal with?


"My wife and kids have really benefited from Blind Veterans UK. I suffered from mild depression prior to joining Blind Veterans UK, and I now feel so much happier and think that I have a very bright future."

 

If you care for someone who may qualify for our support or you know of anyone who served in the Armed Forces and has severe sight problems, please do not hesitate to contact Blind Veterans UK.

 

We launched the No One Alone campaign to reach out to more people like Alistair. It is estimated that there are 68,000 plus blind veterans who could be eligible for our help but are unaware of it. If you know someone who served in the Armed Forces or National Service who now suffers with sight loss (including age-related sight loss) request our free service by calling 0800 389 7979.

 

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